Bil Browning

Faceoff: Patrick Roth Takes on Religious Right

Filed By Bil Browning | February 24, 2011 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: FOX 59, marriage amendment, Micah Clark, Patrick Roth

Remember Patrick Roth? He guest posted his testimony in front of the Indiana House committee debating a marriage discrimination amendment. His testimony was so powerful that the local Fox station invited Patrick to face off against local religious right fundie Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana. Patrick mops the floor with him. It is Teh Awesome.


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This is a feel good video if you support same-sex marriage, like I do. Unfortunately, rational arguments, discussion, reason, etc. have very little influence over those Hoosiers who will take their foot and happily place it on the necks of gay and lesbian Hoosiers while making all sorts of absurd excuses for doing so. Unless you enjoy banging your head up against a brick wall, if you're LGBT in Indiana and want your family to live in a healthy supportive environment: MOVE!

To some extent I agree and we have certainly considered moving to a more progressive part of the country. However we live in Indianapolis, and just like most cities, it is fairly progressive. People in cities have to learn to deal with each other's differences more so than those in rural, more homogeneous areas.

Ironically, we are working on moving. Mainly for the weather and geography! Having lived in other parts of the country, I get tired of the cold winters and lack of mountains, deserts, oceans, etc.

Fyi - this "Patrick" isn't the same as the comments below and I set up an account to be more clear.

So where is there that is warm and progressive? It seems that most of the warm places in the US are full of rednecks and old ppl (who if not gay themselves, tend to be pretty anti-gay as a group).

Mostly just curious, would be nice to have my stereotype of the South and West disproved! :)

ha! We may not get both, but I'd rather have warm and conservative over cold and conservative any day!

Thanks for posting this Bill. I would say the debate was fairly even if you believe that religion should have an influence on governing (and one particular interpretation of that religion.) If you believe in the fundamental separation of church and state, then Mr. Clark really has no leg to stand on. That is ultimately why the Religious Right wants these amendments. They know their reasons to deny same-sex couples a state sanctioned marriage just don't hold water in a court of law. Maybe with the recent news on DOMA we'll see some real progress on this issue on a national level.

Keeping up the good fight!

Yes, that suggests another good plan of attack that can be used after an opponent such as Clark has come up with one religion-based argument after another: "Mr. Clark, so far, every single one of your arguments has been based on your personal religious viewpoints. Do you have any secular argument against same-sex couples that the government should find compelling?"

In the video above, his only non-faith-based argument was his pseudo-scientific claim that "children do better with one man and one woman" -- and Patrick countered that notion very effectively.

One other note:

Fox tried to get the Republican author of the Amendment, Eric Turner, to debate in the Faceoff segment. He declined. Fox had already asked me and I suggested Eric Miller of Advance America, who spoke in favor of the Amendment at the hearing. He also declined. I then suggested Micah Clark, as his organization seems always eager for media attention, and he accepted.

Funny that the author of the legislation didn't want to defend it in an actual debate. He bent over backwards when introducing the bill to claim it wouldn't harm gay people in any way. Our Legislature has since introduced a bill to end any state funded domestic partner benefits (including state colleges, etc.)

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | February 24, 2011 4:46 PM

Patrick: Thank your so very much for both your testimony at the Indiana House Judiciary commmittee hearing, as well as your appearance with Micah Clark. There is a reason why any legislative "author" of this amendment (or its predecessors) won't agree to go one-on-one concerning any details of the measure, because it was handed to them on a "take-it-or-leave-it" basis. You're right, of course, that there ought not to even be the thought of "letting the people vote" on the rights of two, one, a half, or a hundredth of a percent of the Hoosier population. But adding insult to injury, this "take this version or no version" allows for no possible alternative.

And, by the way, you look a heck of a lot better than I do in the clips from the hearing. More hair (any number is greater than zero) and fewer wrinkles. Please stick around in Indiana, even if you have to have a "Do Not Recognize" stamp on your forehead. It won't last forever.

Don Sherfick

Here are two talking points which someone might find helpful:

• This argument about the rights of 2% of the population should be taken to its logical conclusion: "Mr. Clark, are you saying that the rights of population groups with small numbers don't matter? Are you are saying that slavery is OK with you as long as the number of slaves does not exceed 2% of the population? If, say, immigrants from Uganda are less than 2% of the US population, then they can be rounded up and thrown in jail without due process just because somebody doesn't like them?"

• When Wingnuts such as Clark says "They aren't following the Bible" the obvious retort is "Very deliberately, the State does not require that anyone follow the Bible, and specifically it doesn't recognize any particular interpretation of the Bible, including yours."

With or without these arguments, Patrick did a great job thinking on his feet and coming back with good retorts.

These are great arguments, thanks. I was trying in advance to come up with a great one for the 2% statement as he used it in his testimony at the Statehouse.

Stay tuned for the Senate hearings. We need to pack the chamber. I'll let you know the time, Bil. 2-3 weeks out. That's IF the legislature gets back on a "regular" schedule. (lol)

the boxing ring thing is really weird

Yeah, Betty was on that a few months ago and I still can't get past it. It's too stoopid. Just have them sitting across a desk or at podiums or something.

I was hesitant at first when they told me about the boxing ring set. It is a bit hokey. But after watching a couple of segments online, I decided to go ahead and do it. They are definitely more "fair and balanced" locally!

The "boxing ring" set-up is more than just hokey ... even though boxing is a sport and not a true fist-fight, it's a violent metaphor at a time when the lack of civility in public discourse is an ongoing concern.

It's really tasteless ... when the debate features a woman facing off with a man, do they plan to use a "rape" metaphor?

I didn't see any mopping of the floor.

Here was the exchange:


The fundie got away with spreading lies all the time. Particularly "the sociological studies" part. Sure, our guy just contradicted him, but what that does is just split the conclusion based on sympathy for either side. It doesn't inform anyone or change minds as both expressed viewpoints calmly and candidly.


Seriously, offer the damn sources so people know who's got the evidence and it doesn't just boil down to unsupported hearsay.

You have some valid points. First, consider the medium. This was a local news "fluff" piece, not a formal debate. It was also edited down from ~20 minutes into less than 3 minutes of sound bites.

There was an exchange about divorce/marriage rates in Europe that was exactly what you describe. He tried to pull the nonsense of how gay marriage has lowered marriage rates in European countries and I countered with facts from state sponsored data websites, encouraging anyone watching to go view the data for themselves. That was not included in the final cut.

If I have the opportunity to do something like this again, I will make sure I am better prepared with facts. This was my first time, and there wasn't much time to study. I am in the process of reading many of the official positions and studies from the organizations you've listed in order to be better armed for a round two (should I get one.)

To both you and AJ's response:

I'm sorry, the outburst wasn't directed to you as much as what's usually happening in these media , "debates" where people who, unlike you, are paid to represent our side.

You expressed yourself well, I liked your argument.

I was just exploding with frustration because all the sense you make will be shot down by the populace. They don't care if you're sensible, if you speak well-- they don't even care about the things that come out of your mouth.

They just know you're a "biased homosexual" arguing your side, and sadly we will need the help of outside sources and authorities to make our case for us because heterosexuals can be such vile being so as to disqualify us from defending ourselves.

Lucrece, your suggestions have merit, but the way you come on to make them is unjustifiable. You can make your suggestions in a supportive, constructive manner, or you can be an asshole --- it's your choice. Patrick obviously wants to represent us well, and that deserves respect even if you think you could do it better yourself -- and I haven't noticed you volunteering yet.

It is also true that the TV station is in control here -- and unfortunately, they want fluff! A segment where Patrick "mops the floor" with hard facts is exactly the segment they will leave on the editing room floor. It just comes with the territory, and neither us nor the opposition can do much to change the nature of the outcome.

The news station wants to edit it so that there is no clear winner -- otherwise, they piss off one set of viewers or the other, whether left or right.